Name the injured NFL quarterback who said this Wednesday about returning to play after a four-week absence:
“You’re not practicing, you’re not throwing the ball, stuff like that. But I try to do as much as I can, (similar to) when I was out. Just trying to stay close to it and prepare myself for when I do come back, that I’m not feeling clueless out there.”
It certainly wasn’t Russell Wilson. Way too real.
Kyler Murray understood that absence from the game always leaves a player a bit diminished. Acknowledgement of injury-induced physical vulnerability is hardly an embarrassment: Exactly 100 percent of NFL players know what the Arizona quarterback is talking about: Do your best to hold up your end, be humble and know that teammates have your back.
Of course, with an NFL-best 9-2 mark, including 2-1 while he rehabbed a sprained ankle, Murray has some slack to be self-effacing about consequences from injuries. After being unneeded in the 23-13 road win Nov. 21 over the Seahawks, he hopes to be back Sunday when the Cardinals play the Bears.
Wilson continues to insist that body and mind are fine, even though he played one of his career-worst games Sunday in the 17-15 loss at Washington. In saying he’s unbothered by the finger surgery and subsequent month-long layoff, that implies that producing a meager three touchdowns in 30 possessions during three consecutive losses was mostly the responsibility of everyone else.
Not a good look.
But Pete Carroll wasn’t ready to deploy drastic measures for his under-performing quarterback. The Seahawks coach had that don’t-even-ask look when queried as to whether he considered resting Wilson Sunday.
“He doesn’t need it,” he said Wednesday. “We’re not going there. He’s fine.”
Wilson did, however, own up Thursday to some undeniably bad throws in D.C.
“I thought that I missed some passes that we can hit,” he said. “One early, in the flat. I just tried to rip it too firm there. I had the third down to Gerald (Everett) where I just mis-read him. I was thinking that he was a little further inside and I just mis-read him. Then I was high on another one. I think a couple of them I had to get out of my hand to throw it away. Other than that, we battled.”
Indeed, they battled. But effort so far has not been an issue for the Seahawks. Occasional QB inaccuracy is an issue. Tentativeness in choices on where and when to throw is an issue, as are scramble runs.
In fairness to him, injuries to running backs are an issue, and a weakening line, stemming from a lack of personnel investment, is an issue. To score only 28 points in the three starts since his return is a unit-wide failure.
Amid all these issues, it is also plain that the Wilson swagger we have come to know has been fleeting, instead of relentless. Yet there is no diminution in his rhetoric that it will return.
“My resume shows that I’m an overcomer,” he said, breaking a linguistic frontier. “I have no doubts. I have tremendous confidence in who I am, where I am, what I’m going to be, how I’m going to be, how I’m going to get better every day about my craft, and how our football team is going to get better. Because there is no other choice.
“We always respond with the right mentality, the right mindset, the right language, and the right energy around it too. That’s what I’m pumped up about, honestly.”
Well. That’s about as declarative as an athlete gets outside WWE.
Fact is, in-season turnarounds in the NFL aren’t far-fetched.
Look no further than QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who comes to town Sunday with the suddenly formidable, 6-5 San Francisco 49ers (Alert: The game is at 1:25 p.m., not the original 5:20 Sunday night national slot; the Seahawks are no longer compelling TV).
Given the 49ers’ efforts in April to draft in the first round his successor, Trey Lance, incumbent Garoppolo was presumptively declared a dead man walking. In the Niners’ 2-4 start, which included a 28-21 home loss to the Seahawks, Garoppolo mostly played like it.
But in winning four of five since behind a revised power running attack — the Niners have scored 31, 30 and 34 in their last three wins, collectively rushing for 535 yards — Garoppolo has been the NFL’s most efficient QB on third and fourth downs. Previously turnover-prone, he has just two interceptions in the five games. Jimmy G now rhymes with whee.
Speaking of turnarounds, they can go the other way too.
Staying in the NFC West, the Rams have lost three in a row thanks in no small part to Matthew Stafford throwing a pick-six in each game, part of six turnovers total. He’s on the verge of being compared to — horrors! — Jared Goff, the QB for whom he was traded, along with two first-round draft picks.
Goff has lived down to his reputation in 0-10-1 Detroit. But no one figured Stafford, who was off to a fast seasonal start, would sink in the same direction. Especially not in a year that team owner Stan Kroenke was pot-committed to have his own team in the Super Bowl he was hosting in his sparkly SoFi Stadium.
In the moment, the best QB in the NFC West is Garoppolo, with a healthy Murray likely to supplant him. Then it’s Stafford, then Wilson.
Before the season, that ranking would have been hard to believe. But six games remain for this streaky bunch.
And The Overcomer has spoken.